“He is not here!”
When Glenda and I lived in inner city Sydney, this was often the reply she gave to callers at the door of the rectory (vicarage) who were seeking some sort of financial help. On a few occasions I may actually have been present, but hiding under my desk in the study!
The title quote above is actually part of the words of the angel attending Jesus’ tomb. The full context is:-
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
Those who attended the Lenten studies on the Book of Revelation will recognise immediately the use by St Matthew of apocalyptic language to try and express the ‘earthshattering’ significance of the Easter Day event. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, calls the resurrection “The Second Big Bang!” What he is trying to express by this is the fact that something new and creative has taken place, which has cosmic significance.
“He is not here; he has been raised.”
The resurrection of Jesus is a revelatory action which sits in a direct line with the actions of God in the history of Israel. When God rescued his people from Egypt his name was revealed to his servant Moses as YHWH (I will be present to whom I will be present) – the unspeakable name – for to try and name God is to try and control him. God will only be named through actions and relationships.
So why is the resurrection of Jesus revelatory? It helps to answer the question “who is God? Not the god of philosophers or moralists or scientists or even religionists!
God is now none other than “whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt.” (Robert Jenson)
Through the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, God was revealed as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian is always to look at God through the ‘lens’ of Jesus. Now, through the resurrection, we have the added privilege of knowing God as the one who raised Jesus to resurrection life, and who offers a foretaste of that life to us.
Christ is Risen – He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
See you in Church Clive